J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

“One Misfortune in our family”

During his trip to attend the Continental Congress at Philadelphia in May 1775, John Adams used a mare who got spooked in New York and destroyed his father-in-law’s sulky, as described yesterday. The same horse might appear in this vignette from a little more than a year later.

On 14 July 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to John, once again in Philadelphia, with important news from their Braintree farm:

There is one Misfortune in our family which I have never mentiond in hopes it would have been in my power to have remedied it, but all hopes of that kind are at an end. It is the loss of your Grey Horse.

About 2 months ago, I had occasion to send Jonathan of an errant to my unkle Quincys (the other Horse being a plowing). Upon his return a little below the church she trod upon a rolling stone and lamed herself to that degree that it was with great difficulty that she could be got home.

I immediately sent for [neighbor] Tirrel and every thing was done for her by Baths, ointments, polticeing, Bleeding &c. that could be done. Still she continued extreem lame tho not so bad as at first.

I then got her carried to Domet but he pronounces her incurable, as a callous is grown upon her footlock joint. You can hardly tell, not even by your own feelings how much I lament her. She was not with foal, as you immagined, but I hope she is now as care has been taken in that Respect.
The last line indicates that this mare might not have been healthy enough for riding or pulling vehicles any longer, but might still pay for her keep by bringing forth a colt. But that left John Adams without a way to come home from Philadelphia.

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